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When Eric Foster's teenage daughter Emmy christened one of the family's harness racing homebred filly trotters Emmys Mayflower, Foster was not a fan of the name. "I told her I wish she named her something besides that," Foster said with a laugh. "I didn't think that was a very good racehorse name, a winning name. I said, that's not going to be a good horse. "She said, you just wait and see." Emmys Mayflower, by Anders Bluestone out of Stirling Charisma, was born May 1, 2017. Emmy Foster's 15th birthday was a day later. And in the ensuing time, the filly has rewarded Emmy's convictions, almost as if a gift. She heads to Thursday's $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund final for 3-year-old female trotters at Dover Downs with eight wins in 13 career starts and $128,224 in earnings. "She's got a mind of her own," Foster said about Emmys Mayflower. "She can be a challenging filly. But once the gate opens, she's a racehorse." Emmys Mayflower, driven regularly by Foster's nephew Russell, finished 2019 with a three-race win streak that included a 1:56.2 victory in the $100,000 DSBF final at Dover. Foster staked the filly to several Grand Circuit events this year, but a bout with sickness following a third-place finish in the Harrington DSBF final on July 8 led to Emmys Mayflower spending four months away from the races. "She really wasn't sharp at Harrington," Foster said. "We pulled her blood, and her blood was way off. She needed to have some time off. I wasn't going to push her. I wanted to get her ready for this part of the season." Emmys Mayflower prepped for her return by winning a qualifier in 1:54.4 at Dover. She followed with victories in a conditioned race and two preliminary rounds of the DSBF. She starts Thursday's final from post eight and is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. "It's going to be a tough race," said Foster, a Maryland resident who trains about a dozen horses and also works as an equine dental technician several days a month. "I'm glad I don't have to drive her. There are good horses in there and they've all got a shot." Dover hosts four DSBF finals for 3-year-olds on Thursday, with racing beginning at 4:30 p.m. (EST). Air Time (with Art Stafford Jr. driving for trainer Carlo Poliseno) is the 5-2 favorite among male trotters while Spinferno (Tim Tetrick-Chuck Crissman Jr.) is the 5-2 choice among female pacers and All About Lynx (Montrell Teague-Clyde Francis) is the 5-2 pick among male pacers. For complete entries, click here. Ken Weingartner

Anderson, IN --- Applications are now available for the two harness racing scholarships offered by the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. Completed applications are not due until April 30, but early submission is encouraged. Log on to https://www.hhyf.org/hhyf-scholarships.html to access the applications and each scholarship's eligibility requirements and general information. The HHYF scholarships are the $2,500 Curt Greene Memorial Scholarship for students who have demonstrated a passion for harness racing and have financial need; and the $1,000 Sweet Karen Scholarship for alumni of HHYF Summer Programs. HHYF has awarded over $630,000 in scholarship grants since 1976. The HHYF website also provides a comprehensive listing of harness racing-related scholarships available through other sources, which is frequently updated. That list is available at https://www.hhyf.org/industry-scholarships.html. Executive Director Ellen Taylor will be happy to answer specific questions regarding the HHYF scholarships and/or the listing of racing-related scholarships. She may be contacted by email ellen@hhyf.org or by phone 317.908.0029. The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people's lives since 1976; its programs include interactive learning experiences with racehorses as well as offering scholarships and creating and distributing educational materials relating to harness racing. Ken Weingartner

Goalfish will always hold a special place in Jacqueline Ingrassia’s heart as well as harness racing history. Ingrassia became the first female driver ever to win a Triple Crown event when she captured the Yonkers Trot with Goalfish in 2000. On Saturday (Dec. 12), Goalfish passed away at Ingrassia’s farm, where the gelding lived out his life after retiring from racing in 2007 with earnings of $590,082 and a mark of 1:53.4. He was 23. “He meant a helluva lot to us,” Ingrassia said. “He was an overachiever, that’s for sure. I’ve been looking to find another one like him, but I haven’t come up with one yet.” Goalfish, bred by Castleton Farm, was born May 11, 1997 in Lexington. He was a son of Armbro Goal out of Fish Stock originally named Cast Netting when Ingrassia purchased the colt for $13,000 at the 1998 Tattersalls Sale. The horse was unraced at age 2 because of issues with his throat. “He was constantly sick,” Ingrassia said. “Rather than push the envelope, we decided to quit with him and bring him back as a 3-year-old. It worked out OK.” Ingrassia originally owned Goalfish with I B Meyer, who passed away before the horse made it to the races at age 3. Arden Homestead Stable joined Ingrassia in ownership late in 1999 and remained for the rest of Goalfish’s career. “Arden Homestead being the good people they are bought into him,” Ingrassia said. “They were just basically doing us a favor more than anything else. The gods were smiling, and they were rewarded with a Yonkers Trot winner.” Goalfish, trained by Ingrassia’s husband Frank, finished in a dead heat for win with Armbo Trick in their Yonkers Trot elimination. A week later, Goalfish upset favorite Approved Action at odds of 13-1 to take the final in 1:59. Ingrassia still remembers the reception she received when she returned to the Yonkers Raceway paddock with Goalfish. “They gave us a standing ovation,” Ingrassia said. “That was an added enjoyment, the way people rallied around, it really was. All that just makes you feel good.” For his career, Goalfish won 26 of 156 races and hit the board a total of 82 times. “We’ve had him at home, and I used to ride him a little bit and he was great on the trails,” Ingrassia said. “He was just an all-around good horse. The old boy was special to us. He was a lawn ornament at our house for many years. He lived out his life pretty well, I’d say.”   by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

David Miller never thought twice about a career, and it’s safe to say his chosen path has more than paid off. Miller, who was enshrined in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2014, continued to add to his list of accomplishments in 2020, surpassing $250 million in career purses and 13,000 in career wins. The Ohio native, who turns 56 on Thursday, ranks No. 2 in history in driver earnings, behind only John Campbell, and is No. 5 in victories. “This is no lie; I knew at a very early age what I wanted to do,” Miller said. “I wanted to drive and train horses, be around horses. I was around horses right from the start. My grandad (Clyde) and my dad (Donny) both had horses and trained. I remember going to the barn on the weekends at 7 or 8 years old and riding in my dad’s lap on the track training and going to the races at the county fairs when I was little. “I was lucky. I never had to second guess. I never played sports in school, I just wanted to be with the horses.” When Miller was around the age of 10, his father bought him an old pacing mare to take care of, helping set the foundation for the years ahead. “I would jog her and train her; it was pretty cool,” Miller said. “She couldn’t go very fast, but she was safe. Dad let me loose on her and then soon I got to training with him. “With her, I learned a lot. I had to take care of her, too. I had to clean her stall, jog her, I put her away. I bathed her, rubbed her legs, I actually looked after her. I think that’s an important part of it. I think once you get to working with them, you grow more attached to them and you begin to understand them.” Miller began driving at the matinees at age 12. In the ensuing early years of his career, he began enjoying success at the county fairs. “It took me a couple years to get my first win because when I was 12 or 13, I might drive three races a year,” Miller said. “When I got to the fairs, those horses were pretty good. I just had to sit there and not fall off and they would usually win.” In 1990, Miller cracked the top 20 in wins in North America and three years later he was named the Rising Star Award winner by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Since then, he has been named Driver of the Year on three occasions — 2003, 2015 and 2016. He has ranked among the top five in purses 20 of the past 21 seasons and is fourth this year. Miller’s 2020 campaign got off to a difficult start when two stars he piloted in 2019, Real Cool Sam and Papi Rob Hanover, were sidelined. But Miller’s season picked up with the likes of Perfect Sting, Lady Chaos, Century Farroh, Cattlewash, Blue Diamond Eyes, and Test Of Faith. Miller won three Breeders Crown trophies, upping his career total to 27, which is tied for fourth in the history of the event. “I did more than I thought I was going to,” Miller said. “In about July, I was thinking this might be a lean year. But (trainer) Ronnie Burke started using me, and that helped, and I was fortunate to have some other really nice horses. It ended up being a fantastic season.” Miller does not follow his stats, but said reaching $250 million in lifetime purses, which he accomplished while winning last month’s Three Diamonds with Blue Diamond Eyes, was special. “I’m very happy and amazed,” Miller said. “It’s a great feeling of accomplishment. “People have told me, the older I get, the stronger I’m getting. I don’t feel any different than I did 12 or 15 years ago. I still feel good in the bike and I enjoy what I do. I feel like I’m still in my 40s. I know some people might think that’s still a little old, but I don’t feel 55 turning 56. “That goes to show you, you just keep steady, grinding away at it, and you never know.” Even if you knew what you wanted to do all along.   by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ — Hunter Myers figured he was unlikely to realize his harness racing goals this season when the calendar turned to June. The sport had been shutdown for two months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the first night racing returned to MGM Northfield Park in late May, Myers was involved in an accident that sidelined him for an additional three weeks. Yet despite the obstacles, the 22-year-old Ohio resident did accomplish his goals, primarily improving upon his previous season’s stats. Myers has set career highs this year for starts (1,772), wins (189), and purses ($1.39 million). He ranks sixth in victories at Northfield Park and 43rd among all drivers in North America. “It’s been a rough year, but I’m very grateful for how it’s turned out,” Myers said. “Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better year, even with all the downsides of it. I’m just going to keep plugging along and see how much more I can get accomplished before the end of the year. Then I’ll start next year fresh, set more goals for myself, and hopefully reach more accomplishments.” The rough part of Myers’ year included fracturing both sides of his jaw in a May 26 accident at Northfield. In addition to being forced to give up racing for a while, Myers was forced to part ways with solid food. “I could talk but I couldn’t open my mouth wide or laugh,” Myers said. “I was on an applesauce and smoothie diet for a couple weeks. We would go somewhere, and people would be getting nice meals and I was eating broccoli-and-cheddar soup. It wasn’t fun. “The first thing I wanted to eat when I felt comfortable eating again was steak. A hundred percent, steak.” Since returning to action, Myers has added some sizzle to go with his steak. In September, he produced a 17-percent victory rate that resulted in 43 trips to the winner’s circle. In October, he notched the biggest triumph of his career when he guided Checkmate to victory in the Ohio Fairs Championship for 2-year-old male trotters and last month he won the Election Night Series final for trotters with 25-1 longshot Muscular Superstar. Myers, the son of trainer Michael Myers, launched his driving career in 2014, winning 19 of 110 races while appearing at 29 tracks as he looked to establish himself on the Ohio fairs circuit. The next season, he made it to 38 tracks and won 55 of 272 starts. “I was going from north to south, from east to west; I was all over,” said Myers, who has won 670 races lifetime. “If there was a fair that I was down (to drive) at, I was going to do whatever I could to get to it. Sometimes I drove one fair in the afternoon and another at night. I had to put myself out there and get noticed.” At Northfield, Myers competes against some of the winningest drivers in the sport, including five-time North American dash champion Aaron Merriman and 2014 leader Ronnie Wrenn Jr. This year, four of North America’s top nine drivers in wins — Merriman, Wrenn Jr., Kurt Sugg, and Chris Page — have made at least 400 starts at Northfield. “I like to watch and learn from them,” Myers said. “If I’m not in a race, I’ll see what they do in different situations. I always observe to see what I can do. And if someone has advice for me, I’m all ears. I take any advice I can get. I like getting input from people.” Myers is enjoying his time at Northfield but might look to add some other tracks to his rotation next year. He has raced some this year at The Meadows, Dayton, and Scioto Downs. “I could just experiment,” Myers said. “My attitude is to take it one day at a time and pretty soon my chance to shine will come. Every year has been getting better and better. It’s a good feeling.” by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

Hightstown, NJ — Three-year-old male pacer Tall Dark Stranger finished the Grand Circuit season the No.1-ranked harness racing horse in the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, garnering 25 of 35 first-place votes. Tall Dark Stranger, who was retired following his Breeders Crown runner-up finish Oct. 31, won 11 of 13 races and $1.30 million. His earnings led all harness racing horses in North America. Tall Dark Stranger was ranked no worse than third at any point during the poll’s 21 weeks. He took over the top spot in Week 13 of the rankings and stayed there for the remaining nine weeks. There were no changes to the rankings in the poll’s top 10 this week. Party Girl Hill, Gimpanzee, Kissin In The Sand, and Perfect Sting completed the top five. Party Girl Hill received eight first-place votes while Gimpanzee and Perfect Sting split the remaining two. Rounding out the rankings were Bettor’s Wish, Amigo Volo, Manchego, Atlanta, and Ramona Hill. Gimpanzee led the rankings for the first six weeks before giving up No. 1 to Ramona Hill, who spent the next six weeks at the top of the poll. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 21 – 12/1/2020 – FINAL Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Tall Dark Stranger (25) 3pc 13-11-1-0 $1,302,681 334 1 2 Party Girl Hill (8) 3pf 16-15-0-1 $880,345 301 2 3 Gimpanzee (1) 4th 11-8-1-1 $980,964 245 3 4 Kissin In The Sand 5pm 12-8-1-0 $491,984 221 4 5 Perfect Sting (1) 2pc 10-10-0-0 $534,300 214 5 6 Bettor’s Wish 4ph 13-6-3-2 $685,432 142 6 7 Amigo Volo 3tg 15-9-1-2 $939,498 123 7 8 Manchego 5tm 13-6-2-2 $599,451 119 8 9 Atlanta 5tm 12-5-4-1 $749,014 82 9 10 Ramona Hill 3tf 10-6-1-1 $915,615 79 10 ALSO: Anoka Hanover 19; Shartin N 18; Test Of Faith 13; Action Uncle, Caviart Ally, Leonidas A, Sorella, Venerate 2; Charlie May, Major Custard, Peaky Sneaky, Plunge Blue Chip, Yall Beneath Me 1. Ken Weingartner

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Caretaker of the Year. The award, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie's Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung harness racing heroes of the sport - the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by Hard Rock Northfield Park and USHWA, with Fair Island Farm coming on last year. "Leah and I were very honored to continue the tradition of recognizing the outstanding caretaker of the year last year and we look forward to again rewarding an exceptional individual this year," said Zubrod. "While the racing season may have been altered a bit with the covid-19 pandemic, caretakers continued to work as hard as ever. A caretaker's work is important to the success of not only the horse, but the entire stable." The Fair Island Farm 2020 Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500 and a trophy that will include a photo of the winning caretaker and a favorite horse. "In 2020, caretakers have had to endure and persevere in spite of the overwhelming obstacles associated with the pandemic," said USHWA President Kim Rinker. "These folks are the backbone of our industry and have seen to it that racing has continued to not only survive, but thrive, in these troubled times. This award is a shout-out to grooms across North America and beyond who dutifully care for their equine athletes." Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to be the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. All that is needed to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, and sent to Chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. From the United States Harness Writers Association

Bob Aerenson and his father Buddy have owned racehorse for 15 years, but Bob's interest in harness racing goes back to his childhood. Before he was old enough to drive, the Wilmington, Del., resident would ride his bike to nearby Brandywine Raceway and offer to jog horses in the morning before returning later to watch the races. He also would hitch rides to area tracks with childhood friend Doug Paul and his family, whose participation in harness racing stretches more than four decades. In recent years, the Aerensons, who race under the name Rojan Stables (an acronym made up of family member's names), have been among the owners of Dan Patch Award winners Captain Crunch and Divine Caroline as well as Grand Circuit stakes winners Closing Statement, Bettor Be Steppin, and Lady Rainbow. This past Saturday, 2-year-old male pacer Always A Miki added his name to the list with a victory in the Governor's Cup. And on Wednesday, 3-year-old male pacer No Lou Zing will attempt to add a second Grand Circuit triumph to his credentials when he competes in the $325,000 Progress Pace at Dover Downs. "We've been very fortunate," Bob Aerenson said. "It's been a fun ride. My father just turned 90 and is in great health. He gets very excited about the horses. It's a great thing that we do together. Fortunately, we've had some success, and that makes it even more fun." No Lou Zing heads to the Progress Pace off a win in the event's single elimination last week. The gelding won by a half-length over favorite Cattlewash in 1:49.1, with Dexter Dunn driving for trainer Nancy Takter. On Wednesday, No Lou Zing starts from post seven and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Cattlewash, from post eight, is the 2-1 favorite. For the year, No Lou Zing has won seven of 15 races, hit the board a total of 14 times, and earned $442,308 for owners Rojan Stables, 3 Brothers Stables, and Caviart Farms. His victories include the Jenna's Beach Boy Stakes and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He was second in the Matron and third in the Adios and a division of the Tattersalls Pace. His only off-the-board result was a fifth in the Breeders Crown, where he was beaten only three-quarters of a length in a six-horse blanket finish. "We had a little bit of bad luck at the Breeders Crown, but we've gone against some great horses," Aerenson said. "The fact that we're in the same conversation with some of these great horses just makes it even more exciting." No Lou Zing, by Sweet Lou out of Terroronthebeach, was winless in three starts at age 2. He went off stride in all three of those races but got off on a good foot this year with three victories and a second in his first four starts. Takter assistant Josert Fonseca drove the gelding in his first six races this season before handing the lines to Dunn. "He didn't have much of a 2-year-old season, but, obviously, Josert and Nancy are a great team because they got him figured out and he's peaking right now," Aerenson said. "Last week was very impressive." No Lou Zing ranks fifth among all 3-year-old male pacers in purses this season. "My expectations were for him to be a good sire stakes horse, not at the level he's at right now," Aerenson said. "The horse started out the year nicely, but they still were not against the top caliber. I did not expect to be where we are right now. This is very exciting. "Nancy has done a fantastic job keeping this horse in the right place." Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) Wednesday at Dover Downs. The card also includes $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund championships for 2-year-old male and female pacers. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

Hightstown, NJ — There were no newcomers in this week’s harness racing Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown top 10 but TVG Series championship winners Kissin In The Sand, Bettor’s Wish, and Manchego all improved their positions. Kissin In The Sand swapped places with idle Perfect Sting in spots four and five. Bettor’s Wish moved from ninth to sixth and Manchego went from 10th to eighth. All three horses were retired following their TVG triumphs. The top three in the poll remained unchanged, with Tall Dark Stranger at No. 1 followed by Party Girl Hill and Gimpanzee. Next week will be the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll of 2020. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 20 – 11/24/2020 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Tall Dark Stranger (23) 3pc 13-11-1-0 $1,302,681 322 1 2 Party Girl Hill (9) 3pf 16-15-0-1 $880,345 295 2 3 Gimpanzee (1) 4th 11-8-1-1 $980,964 249 3 4 Kissin In The Sand 5pm 12-8-1-0 $491,984 215 5 5 Perfect Sting (1) 2pc 10-10-0-0 $534,300 209 4 6 Bettor’s Wish 4ph 13-6-3-2 $685,432 126 9 7 Amigo Volo 3tg 15-9-1-2 $939,498 123 7 8 Manchego (1) 5tm 13-6-2-2 $599,451 115 10 9 Atlanta 5tm 12-5-4-1 $749,014 100 6 10 Ramona Hill 3tf 10-6-1-1 $915,615 94 8 ALSO: Anoka Hanover 24; Test Of Faith 12; Shartin N 11; Cattlewash 6; Sorella 5; Leonidas A, Plunge Blue Chip, Venerate 3; Action Uncle, Lindy The Great 2; Charlie May, On A Streak, Peaky Sneaky, Pemberton, Ready For Moni, Yall Beneath Me 1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

East Rutherford, NJ - Kissin In The Sand took the lead at the half, fended off a challenge from Shartin N on the final turn, and pulled away from the field in the stretch to win Saturday's $150,000 TVG Series Mare Pace championship in a stakes-record 1:48 at The Meadowlands. Three-year-old filly Peaky Sneaky was second and Shartin N was third. It was the final start of Kissin In The Sand's career. The 5-year-old mare finished the season with a seven-race win streak and pushed her lifetime victory total to 27 in 58 starts. She earned $1.74 million for owners Marvin Katz and Hatfield Stables and trainer Nancy Takter. "She was outstanding tonight," winning driver Dexter Dunn said. "She's had an amazing career, she's an amazing mare, and I was lucky enough to get on for the last four or five starts to enjoy the last run home." Kissin In The Sand left from post nine and settled into third as Peaky Sneaky and Shartin N exchanged the lead in an opening :26.3 quarter. Kissin In The Sand made her move on the backstretch and got to the front just as she hit the half in :53.4. She remained on top to three-quarters in 1:20.3 and came home in :27.2 to win by 2-1/2 lengths over stablemate Peaky Sneaky.   "She kicked in the straight really good," Dunn said. "She knows when it's go time. Once we got the plugs out, she went to another gear and finished off a very strong mile." Sent off the 4-5 favorite, Kissin In The Sand paid $3.80 to win. Kissin In The Sand, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Kiss Me Kate, was bred by Christina Takter, John Fielding, R A W Equine Inc., and Concord Stud Farm. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3. Among her wins to close out this season were her first Breeders Crown as well as the Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. "When she was 3, I actually took care of her myself because I had a much smaller stable, so I had a very close relationship with her," trainer Nancy Takter said. "That's why she's so special (to me). "She's matured so much through the years. She was a pain in the butt to break. I remember four years ago when she came into my barn, I called Marvin Katz and said she's either going to be great, or she's going to be terrible. So I'm happy she decided to be great. She was just tough from day one and her performance tonight just shows how tough she really is." Kissin In The Sand will be bred to another of Takter's recently retired stars, Tall Dark Stranger. "Hopefully, they're a match made in heaven," Takter said, adding with a laugh, "I already told Marvin and Bud (Hatfield) that I get to train the first baby." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA  

East Rutherford, NJ - Manchego made her final career start a winning one, capturing Saturday's (Nov. 21) $320,000 TVG Open Trot championship by 1-1/4 lengths over Atlanta in 1:51.3 at The Meadowlands. Lindy The Great finished third. Manchego, a 5-year-old mare, was retired in a ceremony in the winner's circle following the race. She ended her career with 33 wins in 56 career starts and $2.72 million in purses. Her victories included the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 4, and 5. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a mark of 1:49.3 in this year's Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park. Manchego is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years. She has been the sport's fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020. In 2017, Manchego won all 12 of her starts and became the first undefeated 2-year-old filly trotter in Breeders Crown history as well as the first unbeaten 2-year-old filly trotter to win a Dan Patch Award. With her Breeders Crown triumph last month, she joined Peace Corps and Grades Singing as the only female trotters with at least three trophies. Manchego, by Muscle Hill out of Secret Magic, was trained by Jimmy Takter at ages 2 and 3, and Nancy Takter at 4 and 5. She is owned by Barry Guariglia's Black Horse Racing and was bred by Brittany Farms. "She's just a super mare," Nancy Takter said. "She's been great since the first moment that she ever set foot on the track. "When you get the call that you get to train a horse like Manchego, those calls probably aren't going to come very many times in my life, so I appreciate every moment that I had with her. She's just an unbelievable mare. She makes my job easy, she makes all of us look good around her, because she's just such a professional." On Saturday, Manchego and driver Dexter Dunn watched from fourth as Crystal Fashion led to the quarter in :28 and half in :57. As the field neared the final turn, Dunn moved with Manchego and gained the cover of Atlanta, who had been racing in second. Crystal Fashion remained on top at three-quarters, reached in 1:24.1, but in the stretch it was all Manchego, who came home in :27 for the victory.   "It's fitting that the first time she ever went behind the gate was at The Meadowlands and she gets to finish her career here with a win," Takter said. "She started her career with a win at The Meadowlands and she's going to end it the same way." Said Guariglia, "It feels wonderful. She almost made that look too easy. She's super sharp right now. I was a little nervous when they got to the half in :57; she probably hasn't seen that since she trained back in March. Win or lose, I was ready for the emotions tonight. But, obviously, it's great to win." Manchego, the slight even-money favorite over Atlanta, paid $4.00 to win. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Harness racing driver Todd McCarthy is no fan of the cold, but the Australia native is a big admirer of good horses. And the latter will keep McCarthy in the U.S. through this winter and next year. The 27-year-old McCarthy moved to the U.S. in late August and already counts a handful of Grand Circuit stakes victories among his 80 wins sinceeries cham then. His biggest triumph came earlier this month with Anoka Hanover in the Kindergarten Classic Spionship for 2-year-old female trotters, and McCarthy will be back in action with the filly this weekend. Anoka Hanover is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's $451,800 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters at The Meadowlands. She brings a six-race win streak to the event, including divisions of the International Stallion and Bluegrass stakes. For the year, the Noel Daley-trained filly has won nine of 13 races and $373,153. McCarthy has been in the sulky for her past six starts. "She's been awesome," McCarthy said. "Noel has done a terrific job with her and certainly made my job easier. It's a tough race, but fingers crossed, hopefully everything goes well for us." Anoka Hanover was not eligible to the Breeders Crown last month at Harrah's Hoosier Park. On Saturday, she will face the top-three Breeders Crown finishers: winner Lady Chaos, runner-up Mazzarati, and Splash Blue Chip. Lady Chaos and Splash Blue Chip have not raced since the Crown. Mazzarati finished third in the Kindergarten two weeks ago, when Anoka Hanover won in a career-best 1:52.3. "Going to the Breeders Crown would have been cool but she might not have been the same horse going into the Kindergarten and the race this week," McCarthy said about Anoka Hanover, a daughter of Donato Hanover-Aunt Mel. "I'm a big believer that sometimes everything happens for a reason and that fortnight ago was perfect. "She's got such a good attitude for such a young filly; she handles herself so well. She's just a lovely little horse to drive. She's so honest. She's out there to do her best every time, you don't have to ask her too much; she's trying as hard as you can. When you come across a horse like that, it doesn't matter what age group, you just really appreciate them." McCarthy is the younger brother of top drivers Luke and Andy McCarthy and son of highly regarded trainer John McCarthy. His accomplishments Down Under included winning the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship and multiple New South Wales state and metropolitan premiership driving titles. He represented Australia at the 2019 World Driving Championship and counts the Inter Dominion as his top victory. "I have to thank Noel for all he's done," McCarthy said. "He helped me come over here and got me going. He couldn't have been more helpful since I've come to the States, putting me down to drive. I can't thank him enough." McCarthy's original plan was to return to Australia during the U.S. winter and return next spring or summer. But with his newfound success in the States, he decided there was no reason to leave. McCarthy entered Friday with 80 wins in 565 drives, a 14-percent win rate, and $1.17 million in purses. "To be honest, I never thought I would stay this busy when I came over; I thought I'd be pretty quiet," McCarthy said. "But everyone has been so welcoming, and I've been getting a lot of great opportunities. I'm really enjoying it. "I don't like the cold too much, but I'm happy to stick it out and I'll do my best to enjoy the winter. I don't want to go home. I'm having too much fun." The Goldsmith Maid is part of the Fall Four events for 2-year-olds Saturday at The Big M. Breeders Crown champion On A Streak is the 3-1 favorite in the $398,650 Valley Victory for male trotters and Summa Cum Laude, who captured a Breeders Crown in a dead heat with Perfect Sting, is the 9-5 choice in the $371,900 Governor's Cup for male pacers. Fire Start Hanover, also a Crown winner, is the 2-1 favorite in the $323,600 Three Diamonds for female pacers. In addition to the Fall Four, the Saturday card includes TVG Series championships for trotters and pacers. Those races will feature the final career starts for Dan Patch Award winners Bettor's Wish, Kissin In The Sand, and Manchego. For complete Saturday Big M entries, click here. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Harness racing will say goodbye to three Dan Patch Award winners following Saturday's TVG Series championships at The Meadowlands. Bettor's Wish, Kissin In The Sand, and Manchego will be retired to breeding duties after their careers conclude this weekend and each will be honored in ceremonies following their respective races at The Big M. Bettor's Wish, a 4-year-old stallion, received the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male pacer in 2019 and was second to mare Shartin N in voting for both Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. He led the sport with $1.64 million in purses last year and has earned $2.43 million lifetime. The son of Bettor's Delight-Lifetime Star heads to Saturday's $340,000 TVG Series Open Pace championship the winner of 23 of 43 lifetime starts. He has failed to finish among the top three only three times in his career. "I'm going to miss him," said trainer Chris Ryder, who owns Bettor's Wish with Bella Racing, Fair Island Farm, and Bettors Wish Partners. "He's going to be near impossible to replace. It's hard to find a horse that can do what he's done, and he just takes it all in stride. When you look back, it's been a terrific run. You really appreciate having a horse that can do all he did." Victories this year for Bettor's Wish include the Sam McKee Memorial, Dayton Pacing Derby, and Allerage Farms Open Pace. "Winning the McKee was very special to me," said Ryder, who noted at the time, "It's hard to describe. It's an honor to win it for Sam. I hope he's looking down on us today." Bettor's Wish bred 58 mares in New Jersey this year before beginning his 4-year-old campaign. He will stand at Diamond Creek Farm of Pennsylvania in 2021. Ryder gave credit to caretaker Alonso Martinez, second trainer Peter Trebotica, and his son Patrick Ryder, for playing key roles in the horse's success. He also thanked his ownership partners and regular driver Dexter Dunn as well as trainer Chantal Mitchell and driver Paul MacDonell, who campaigned the horse for him in Canada at 2. "Most of all, thank you Bettor's Wish," Ryder said. "He was such an exciting and tough racehorse for all of us to enjoy, consistently giving 100 percent on the track. We will all miss this amazing horse." Kissin In The Sand was a Dan Patch Award winner at age 3. The now 5-year-old mare enters Saturday's $150,000 TVG Series championship for female pacers with 26 career wins in 57 starts and $1.66 million in purses. A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Kiss Me Kate, she has been trained throughout her career by Nancy Takter and owned by Marvin Katz and Bud Hatfield. "It's been exciting," Hatfield said. "We all have had so much fun with this horse, it's unbelievable. But it's time to start another chapter in her life. It's time for the breeding shed, and I think she'll be a good mom." Kissin In The Sand brings a six-race win streak to her career finale. Among those victories was her first Breeders Crown as well as the Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. Hatfield said Kissin In The Sand's determination was what he most admired about the horse. That grit was perhaps most famously on display in the 2018 James M. Lynch Memorial at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where she won by a neck over Youaremycandygirl after being parked out from post nine for most of the mile. "Even if she had a bad post, she would come out of there rolling, get parked, and keep digging in," Hatfield said. "She showed so much heart and grit. "Nancy has done a heck of a job with her. They have a special bond, they really do. She loves that horse. She's a special horse and I think she will be a special broodmare." Manchego, a 5-year-old female trotter, competes in Saturday's $320,000 TVG Series Open Trot, facing a field that includes fellow mare Atlanta as well as male rivals Crystal Fashion, Lindy The Great, and Mission Accepted. A daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic, Manchego has won 32 of 55 lifetime races and earned $2.56 million. Her victories include the 2018 Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 4, and 5. She is the fastest female trotter ever thanks to her 1:49 victory in the 2019 Allerage Farms Mare Trot at Red Mile and also the fastest female trotter in history on a five-eighths-mile track, with a mark of 1:49.3 in this year's Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge Park. She is the only female trotter to win with a sub-1:50 mile in multiple years and has been the sport's fastest trotter in 2019 and 2020. Manchego went undefeated in 12 races at age 2 and received divisional Dan Patch honors. She was trained by Jimmy Takter at ages 2 and 3 and by Nancy Takter at 4 and 5. "For me, that (TVG) will be a rough one because it's been so wonderful, and I do like to race," owner Barry Guariglia of Black Horse Racing said. "It'll be a rough one, but the start of a new chapter for her. "She seems to be in good form, so hopefully we've got one more (win) in us." The Meadowlands hosts four TVG Series championships Saturday as well as the Fall Four for 2-year-olds. Four Breeders Crown winners will be in action in the Fall Four: Lady Chaos in the $451,800 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, On A Streak in the $398,650 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters, Summa Cum Laude in the $371,900 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old male pacers, and Fire Start Hanover in the $323,600 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. For complete Saturday Big M entries, click here. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

Harness racing trainer Nancy Takter will watch trotting mare Manchego and pacing mare Kissin In The Sand compete for the final time Saturday at The Meadowlands, but also will get another look at two 3-year-olds that will attempt to follow in their award-winning stablemates' hoof prints next season. Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella will face five older foes in the $140,000 TVG Series championship for female trotters while 3-year-old filly Breeders Crown winner Peaky Sneaky will meet eight older rivals in the $150,000 TVG Series championship for female pacers. "They're both coming back next year, and they're both really sharp at the moment," Takter said. "I think they both deserve a chance." It is the second time 3-year-old fillies will take on mares in the TVG Series championships, which debuted in 2013. Last year, Warrawee Ubeaut finished fourth in the Mare Pace final and Beautiful Sin was fourth in the Mare Trot. Sorella's foes in the Mare Trot include 5-year-old Plunge Blue Chip, a world-record-holder and multiple Grand Circuit winner, and 4-year-old When Dovescry, who captured the 2019 Hambletonian Oaks and Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old filly trotter. She will not face Manchego or Atlanta, who will both race in Saturday's $320,000 TVG Open Trot final. Peaky Sneaky's rivals in the Mare Pace include 5-year-old Kissin In The Sand as well as 7-year-old Shartin N, who was the 2019 Horse of the Year; 6-year-old Caviart Ally, who is the event's defending champion, and 4-year-old Warrawee Ubeaut. The four TVG Series championships are among eight Grand Circuit stakes on Saturday's Big M card, along with the Fall Four for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EST). Sorella heads to the TVG Mare Trot off a win in last week's Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters. She has won eight of 14 races this season, hit the board a total of 12 times, and earned $713,049. In addition to winning the Oaks, she won a division of the Casual Breeze Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park in a Canadian-record 1:51.3 and the Reynolds Memorial in 1:50.2, which is tied for the season's second-fastest mile by a 3-year-old trotter. "The only way I was putting Sorella in was if Manchego ended up in the (TVG) Open," Takter said. "I knew it was going to be a little bit of a short field, and I think she belongs in there. I don't think she gets enough credit for what she's done this year. She's raced from the first weekend of June all the way through November. She broke a Canadian record, she won the Oaks; she's had a tremendous year." Peaky Sneaky won the Breeders Crown last month at Harrah's Hoosier Park, where she handed Party Girl Hill her only loss of the season. For the year, Peaky Sneaky has won six of 15 races, hit the board 12 times, and earned $482,622. Her 1:48 win in a division of the Glen Garnsey makes her the third-fastest female pacer of the season, behind only Party Girl Hill and Kissin In The Sand. "She's tough and gritty," Takter said. "I don't think she knows any different if they're aged mares or 3-year-olds." Kissin In The Sand heads to the TVG final with a six-race win streak. Her victories include the Breeders Crown, Dayton Distaff Derby, Milton Stakes, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace. For her career, she has won 26 of 57 races and $1.66 million. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at 3. Manchego, coming off the third Breeders Crown title of her career, and 5-year-old mare Atlanta both take on the males in the TVG Open Trot. Manchego has won 32 of 55 lifetime races and $2.56 million. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at 2. In the TVG Open Pace championship, Bettor's Wish will make his final career start against a field that includes Breeders Crown winner Century Farroh. Four Breeders Crown winners also will be in action in the Fall Four: Lady Chaos in the $451,800 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, On A Streak in the $398,650 Valley Victory for 2-year-old male trotters, Summa Cum Laude in the $371,900 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old male pacers, and Fire Start Hanover in the $323,600 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. For complete Saturday Big M entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA   

Hightstown, NJ — The top five spots in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll remained unchanged, but there was a shift in positions in the bottom five. Ramona Hill, who went off stride in the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters last week, dropped from sixth to eighth in the rankings. Moving up were idle Atlanta and Matron Stakes 3-year-old male trot winner Amigo Volo. Tall Dark Stranger, Party Girl Hill, Gimpanzee, Perfect Sting, and Kissin In The Sand held firm in spots one through five. All were idle except Party Girl Hill, who won the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers. Party Girl Hill gained four first-place votes this week, increasing her total to eight. Tall Dark Stranger received 24 first-place nods while Perfect Sting (two) and Gimpanzee (one) got the remaining first-place tallies. There will be two more Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown polls this season, Nov. 24 and Dec. 1. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 19 – 11/17/2020 Rank Name (First Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Tall Dark Stranger (24) 3pc 13-11-1-0 $1,302,681 332 1 2 Party Girl Hill (8) 3pf 16-15-0-1 $880,345 311 2 3 Gimpanzee (1) 4th 11-8-1-1 $980,964 263 3 4 Perfect Sting (2) 2pc 10-10-0-0 $534,300 228 4 5 Kissin In The Sand 5pm 11-7-1-0 $419,984 196 5 6 Atlanta 5tm 11-5-3-1 $669,014 130 7 7 Amigo Volo 3tg 15-9-1-2 $939,498 127 8 8 Ramona Hill 3tf 10-6-1-1 $915,615 126 6 9 Bettor’s Wish 4ph 12-5-3-2 $522,232 55 9 10 Manchego 5tm 12-5-2-2 $439,451 49 10 ALSO: Shartin N 22; Test Of Faith 16; Cattlewash 11; Century Farroh, Fire Start Hanover, Sorella 10; Action Uncle 6; Anoka Hanover 4; Leonides A, Peaky Sneaky, Venerate 3; Charlie May, Lindy The Great, On A Streak, Ready For Moni 2; Pemberton, Yall Beneath Me 1. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

After suffering respiratory issues earlier this season, Cattlewash is healthy and hitting his best stride. The 3-year-old harness racing pacing colt has won three of his last four races and finished off the board only once in his last seven starts as he heads to Wednesday's single $35,000 Progress Pace elimination at Dover Downs, where he is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Cattlewash enters the elim off victories in the Matron Stakes last week at Dover and the Monument Circle Stakes on Nov. 6 at Harrah's Hoosier Park. His stretch of improved form began at the Little Brown Jug in September, where he finished second in the final from post seven, and continued with a world-record-equaling 1:46.4 victory in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes last month at Red Mile. He also won an elimination of the Breeders Crown and was third in the final, beaten by only a quarter length in a race that saw the top-eight finishers separated by two lengths. For the season, the Ron Burke-trained Cattlewash has won six of 15 starts and $487,986 for breeder/owner Bill Donovan. David Miller has driven the horse since July. "He fits 2020 perfectly because it's been a challenge with him for most of the year," Donovan said. "He kept getting respiratory infections that were affecting his breathing. Apparently, by the time the Jug came, they got it under control. He's now showing us what he can do when he can breathe properly. He's been a real pleasure since the Jug." Last year, Cattlewash won four of 13 races and $311,791. He was second to Papi Rob Hanover in the Matron for 2-year-old male pacers and third behind Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover in both the Breeders Crown elimination and final. Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover finished 1-2, respectively, in voting for the division's Dan Patch Award. "There was no question that (Cattlewash) had talent," Donovan said. "Coming into this year, he was in the shadow of Tall Dark Stranger and Papi Rob Hanover, obviously, but I had faith in him all along that he could nip at their heels anyway. With Papi Rob Hanover and Tall Dark Stranger retired, he's moving toward the head of the class. "He's becoming a different horse. I think because his maladies are behind him, hopefully, and he's racing better, he's developed a degree of confidence. He's a handsome individual. He's got brains; he stays pretty cool, calm, and collected around the track. Not too much flusters him. On the track now, he's all business." Cattlewash is a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Bettor's Delight mare Road Bet. Donovan bought Road Bet at the end of her 3-year-old season and raced her for two years before breeding her to Somebeachsomewhere with the hopes of getting a colt. After Cattlewash was born, he sold the mare. "I wanted to breed a daughter of Bettor's Delight to Somebeachsomewhere because I thought that was a really good cross," Donovan said. Donovan is exploring opportunities to stand Cattlewash in New Jersey to service a limited book of mares while continuing the horse's racing career at age 4, following the path of pacer Bettor's Wish this year and trotter Father Patrick in 2015. "We're going to see if we can put it together in the next couple weeks," Donovan said. "Kind of get a jump start on the interest that's there. "But Ronnie is pretty adamant that we haven't seen the best of him. He's excited to train him next year, so how could I go against that? Some of the miles he's gone this year have been pretty eye opening. If we were able to equal or exceed that next year, it would be pretty awesome." The top-eight finishers from the Progress Pace elimination will advance to the $325,000 final Nov. 25 at Dover Downs. In addition to Cattlewash, the field includes Little Brown Jug winner Captain Barbossa and Adios winner Catch The Fire as well as Grand Circuit stakes winners Tattoo Artist, No Lou Zing, Fortify, and Captain Kirk. Post time for Dover Downs is 4:30 p.m. (EST). Click here for complete entries. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA         

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